Over the past month, each of the top 13 exchange traded funds as measured by pure performance are China ETFs. That includes the iShares China Large-Cap ETF (NYSEArca: FXI) and the Deutsche X-trackers Harvest CSI 300 China A-Shares Fund (NYSEArca: ASHR) in the fourth and eighth spots, respectively.
FXI, the largest U.S.-listed China ETF, is up 20.7% over the past month. ASHR, the largest U.S.-listed ETF tracking China A-shares, the stocks trading on the mainland in Shanghai and Shenzhen, is higher by 19.3% over the past 30 days. Those impressive performances are not preventing some options traders from making bearish bets against the two ETFs. [China ETFs Return to the Limelight]
Put ownership in FXI “jumped 46 percent in the past 30 days to 2 million contracts, close to a five-year high,” reports Belinda Cao for Bloomberg. Bearish options bet on ASHR have nearly doubled over the past month, according to Bloomberg.
While A-shares valuations now look stretched relative to the H-shares trading in Hong Kong and held by FXI, stopping ASHR’s run and those of its rival A-shares ETFs is another matter. The Shanghai Composite was higher by more than 2% at various points during Monday’s Asian session and has surged 37.2% over the past 90 days. That even with over a quarter of A-shares sporting P/E ratios north of 100.
It also pays to remember that professional traders buy put options as hedges on long positions in the underlying security. Even if that point is to be debated, it cannot be argued that elevated bearish options activity in ASHR was seen in mid-March, but since March 16, the ETF is up nearly 27.6%. [A-Shares Surge Crimps Bearish Options Buyers]